America’s Black Swan

The morning after the presidential election people around the world were incredulous that Americans had entrusted their future to a business man and political neophyte  whose campaign brought the neo-right into the mainstream of American politics.

Defying all predictions, even the President-elect looked stunned by his win and a bit afraid, perhaps at the daunting thought of a 16 hour work day. He promised to “keep ‘em guessing”, “drain the swamp” , and “make America great again”; the latter promise undermining the United States’ position in the eyes of world, making it less great just by saying so.

Donald Trump’s election is a great example of a Black Swan, what Nassim Nicholas Taleb describes in his book (of the same name) as that “exceptional and unexpected event which leads to the degradation of predictability dominated by the extreme, the unknown, and the very improbable”. A good description of the administration of United States of America under the 45th President.

Uncertainty and unpredictability in American politics is the new normal. Over the last 70 years the United States has inter-twined itself throughout the workings of the international system using its wealth, influence, and military might to force, influence and threaten; to mold the structure of international financial, political and social institutions into its vision.

In Taleb’s words, “the world in which we live has an increasing number of feedback loops, causing events to be the cause of more events thus generating snowballs and arbitrary and unpredictable planet-wide winner-take-all effects.” This state of anarchy has always existed in international politics, but with chaos at the core of the ‘democracy enforcer’ delivered by its own executive, what will come remains to be seen.

As the American system undergoes the state constructed existential threat to its institutions of governance and their sphere of influence shrinks,  governments around the world will have to figure out how best to extricate themselves from the ‘American Project’* with as little damage as possible.

*See PNAC Project for a New American Century (Republican neo-conservative think tank 1997-2006)


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